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The Reporting System
Category A: Senior Secondary Subjects - Standards-referenced Reporting
A Standards-referenced Reporting (SRR) system is adopted for the HKDSE, in which candidates’ performances are reported with reference to a set of standards. Except for Citizenship and Social Development^, candidates’ performance is reported in five levels (levels 1 to 5), with 5 being the highest. The level 5 candidates with the best performance are awarded a 5**, and the next top group of candidates are awarded a 5*. Attainment below level 1 is designated as ‘Unclassified’. The results of Citizenship and Social Development are reported in one level, ‘Attained’. Achievements below ‘Attained’ are designated as ‘Unattained’.

Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM) has decided that the General Entrance Requirements of the four core subjects for HKDSE candidates will be revised as ‘332A’, i.e. ‘332’ and ‘Attained (A)’, beginning from the admission of the 2024/25 intake. For details, please click here.

For more details on Standards-referenced Reporting, please click here.


^ The optimising proposals for the four Senior Secondary core subjects (i.e. Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics Compulsory Part and Citizenship and Social Development in lieu of Liberal Studies) were jointly endorsed by the Curriculum Development Council and the Public Examinations Board of the HKEAA. The proposals were also accepted by the Education Bureau (EDB). The optimising measures have been implemented at Secondary 4 in the 2021/22 school year and are applicable to the HKDSE starting from 2024. Please click here for details.

Category B: Applied Learning (ApL) Subjects
The assessment of Category B (ApL) subjects is undertaken by course providers. After moderation by the HKEAA, the final results are recorded on the HKDSE certificate. The results are reported as “Attained” and “Attained with Distinction”. Performance below “Attained” is designated as “Unattained”. This is not reported on the certificate. Candidates awarded "Attained with Distinction" are deemed to have performed at a level comparable to level 3 or above for Category A subjects.

Starting from the 2018 HKDSE, the reporting of students' performance in ApL subjects would be further refined from the existing two levels of "Attained" and "Attained with Distinction" to "Attained", "Attained with Distinction (I)" and "Attained with Distinction (II)". Performance of "Attained with Distinction (I)" is comparable to level 3 while "Attained with Distinction (II)" is comparable to level 4 or above of the Category A subjects of the HKDSE. For ApL Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students), the existing levels of results, i.e. “Attained” and “Attained with Distinction”, will continue to be used. Refinement of these levels would be considered when more data is collected.

Category C: Other Languages Subjects
For Category C subjects, marking and grading are conducted by Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International). Results are reported in five grades (a-e) on the HKDSE certificate, with grade 'e' being the lowest and grade 'a' being the highest. Achievement below 'e' is designated as 'Ungraded'. This is not reported on the certificate.

Starting from the 2025 HKDSE, Cambridge International Advanced Subsidiary level question papers will no longer be used for Category C (Other Languages) subjects. Instead, HKDSE candidates will be required to take stipulated official language examinations. Different reporting systems are adopted by the official language examinations. Candidates’ results obtained in these examinations at the stipulated proficiency level or above will be included in the HKDSE Category C results. A separate results notice and certificate reporting the overall subject results attained by the candidates and the component results (if applicable) will be issued to each candidate for the Category C subjects.